The Internet Protocol (IP) | IPv4

Ethernet defines how devices can be physically connected. But users do not know the Ethernet addresses of the devices providing the services they wish to use. More intelligence is needed to separate out the physical addressing, replacing it with logical addressing that an administrator can decide on, and allow multiple physical networks to be connected. The Internet Protocol (IP) defines how this addressing and packet formatting is to occur.
IP was originally specified in RFC 791 and expanded upon later, and comes in two versions: version 4 (IPv4) and version 6 (IPv6). The two main concepts for IP are the IP addressand IP frame.

IPv4 is the version used most often on the Internet today, by a wide margin. IPv4 uses a four-byte address written out as dotted decimal numbers, such as These addresses are given out by an international agency in blocks for large organizations to use. Generally, individual IP addresses are provided to organizations by their Internet service providers. Ranges of addresses tend to be specified using the slash notation. For example, means that the upper 16 bits are what was written, and the rest are within the range defined by allowing the remaining lower bits to be set to any value.
Of the 32-bit address space, some of the addresses have special meanings. The address range is for loopback networking, and, when used as a destination, are kept internally to the machine that is doing the sending. This allows an IP device to send packets to itself. The range is for link-local addresses, meaning that their use cannot extend past the Ethernet switching network they are used on. In addition,,, and are all private addresses. These are the addresses most commonly used in voice mobility networks within the enterprise. They are not valid on the public Internet itself, but are designed for private networks based on IP. The network is used for multicast traffic: each address is a different multicast group. Finally, the address is the link-local broadcast address, meant to go out to all devices on the Ethernet switching network (and using the FF:FF:FF:FF:FF:FF Ethernet broadcast address for the underlying packet).
IPv4 runs on Ethernet by setting the Ethernet type to 0×0800. The IP packet has a header and payload, as shown in Table 1.

Table 1: IPv4 Packet Format
Table 2: The Version/Header Length Field
Header Length
The Version/Header Length field is specified in Table 2. For IPv4, the version is always 4. The header length measures how long the header is (up to the data field), in four-byte increments. The Type of Service/Diffserv Code Point (TOS/DSCP) field is used to specify the quality-of-service properties of the packet. The Total Length measures the entire length of the packet, and will come into play with fragmentation. The Identification field is used to track which fragments belong to the same overall packet; between separate packets, most devices tend to increment this by one, although this is not required. The Fragment field specifies what the offset is for this fragment in the entire packet. The TTL (Time To Live) field is used for forwarding, and specifies how many times this packet can be forwarded before it is dropped. The Protocol field specifies what higher-layer protocol is used on top of IP for this packet. The Header Checksum is a literal one's complement 16-bit sum of the header of the packet, and is used to detect if the underlying network flips a bit by mistake. (The Ethernet CRC is adequate for that purpose, so this field, although always set and always checked, is not terribly useful.) Finally, to the interesting information. The Source and Destination fields hold the IP addresses of the originator and final destination of this packet. The header ends here, and is followed by the next protocol's headers or data. This entire set of bytes is the payload of the underling Ethernet frame.
IP is designed to be relayed, or forwarded, between computers, across different network segments, and across the world if needed. This is the major distinction for IP, as it hasallowed the Internet to be constructed from an assembly of smaller networks. The idea is that any IP-connected device that has multiple links can forward messages if configured to do so. Each link has its own IP address, as required. When an packet comes in for an IP address that is not that of the machine (how that happens will be mentioned in a moment), the device will look up a routing table to find out where the next machine is that this packet needs to go to. IP forwarding works on the concept of longest-prefix matching. Because there are too many IP addresses for a machine to know about, and because the IP address space tends to be organized in ranges, the forwarding device (arouter in this context) looks up a series of routing rules that it has configured. Each routing rule is set up as a network prefix (as specifiable by slash notation), and the IP address of a machine that is on one of the links the router has. This address is the next hop. Because a destination address might match more than one rule, the one rule that matches the most leading bits-the longest prefix-will win, and that next hop will be used.
This concept of next hops explains why a router or machine may get a packet for a different destination IP address than it uses for itself. If another machine is set up to forward packets to it—and any machine can be set up to forward to any other, without restriction, so long as both are on the same switching network—then the first machine will get packets for other devices. The concept of prefix routing makes sense when you think of most enterprise routers. Enterprises, all but the largest, usually have a limited number of address ranges that are used locally. All of the rest, every other one, is out on the Internet. Connecting the enterprise to the Internet is one Internet router. The enterprise routers thus need only to have forwarding rules for the address ranges that they have in the enterprise, plus one route, called a default route, that tells the IP address of the Internet router. This default route uses a prefix, meaning that every address matches, because the prefix is trivially short. Therefore, longest-prefix matching ensures that the default route matches last. Nonrouters will normally only have this default route, because they will not forward other devices' traffic. In this way, locally generated traffic is forwarded, even when other traffic will not be. The final bit of information to know is that not all traffic is forwarded on to next hops. Each link into the system has not only an IP address but asubnet mask, or a prefix that specifies what other IP addresses are directly on that link. For example, using the same slash notation, states that the IP address of the link is, and all IP addresses starting with 192.168.10 are directly on the link, and do not need to be routed to the next hop. Those direct-link addresses belong to the same subnet. Every time the frame is forwarded, the TTL is reduced by one. Once it hits zero, the packet is dropped, rather than forwarded. Nothing else is modified while the packet is forwarded—the source and destination addresses are always those of the originator and the final destination of the packet.
Because IP runs on top of Ethernet, there must be a way to map IP addresses to Ethernet addresses. Every IP address has an Ethernet address—that of the Ethernet device the IP address was assigned to. When a sender needs to send out an IP packet, and it has used its forwarding logic to figure out which link the next hop or final destination is on, the sender needs to use a resolution protocol to ask the devices on the network for which one has the IP address it needs. The protocol is called the Address Resolution Protocol(ARP). ARP runs on a different Ethernet protocol type 0×0806. The idea is that each sender maintains an ARP cache. This cache stores the Ethernet address that is known for a given IP address. The cache is updated whenever another device sends a packet to the first one, as the Ethernet source address is assumed to be bound to the IP source address, so long as that IP address is on the same subnet. However, if the cache does not have an address mapping that is needed, the sender will send an ARP request to the network. These ARP requests are broadcasted using Ethernet, and any device that receives the ARP request and has that IP address is required to respond, unicast to the ARP sender, acknowledging the binding with another ARP message. The format of an ARP message is shown in Table 3.

Table 3: ARP Message Format
For Ethernet networks, the Hardware Type is always 1, and the Protocol Type is always 0×800. The Hardware size is the length of the Ethernet address, 6. The Protocol Size is the length of the IP address, 4. There are two opcodes: 1 is for a request, and 2 is for a reply. Finally, the addresses state the mapping that is requested or being answered for. When a machine requests to find out which other device has an IP address, it will send its Ethernet and IP addresses as Sender, and the IP address it is looking for as Target, with the Target Ethernet set to 0. The respondent will fill in its Ethernet and IP address as sender, the original requester's Ethernet and IP as target, and then send the response back.
With ARP, the binding of IP addresses to Ethernet addresses can be dynamic and changing.
Earlier, the concept of fragmentation was alluded to. IP provides a service that lets a packet be split across a number of smaller packets. The reason for this is that IP is meant to be carried over a wide variety of link-layer technologies, not just Ethernet, and those technologies may have a different maximum payload size. To make sure that a packet that is of a valid length that is sent in one network can arrive safely at the other, the concept of fragmentation was introduced. The router, or sender who has a packet which is too large, and which does not already have the "Do Not Fragment" bit in its Fragment field set, will divide the packet into two or more smaller ones, each with a copy of the original IP header.
The data fields will be the individual segments, with the offset of the first byte of the data field from the start of the original (or reassembled) packet being given in the Fragment field. The fragments are sent over the network, and the receiver is required to reassemble all of the fragments before sending it up to the higher layers. The receiver knows that it has reached the end of the fragment chain by looking at the "More Fragment" bit in the Fragment field. The last fragment will not have that bit set. All fragments of an original packet share that packet's original Identification field. The maximum size of an IP packet, including all headers, is 65,535 bytes.
IP, like most other packet networking technologies, makes no guarantees as to whether a packet will arrive at its destination. Packets may arrive with arbitrary delays, and may even come out of order (although this is to be discouraged). This best-effort delivery guarantee-the network will try, but will not commit resources up front-is key to IP's success. It, unfortunately, also runs counter to the goals of voice.
Clearly, IPv4 is the bread-and-butter protocol for voice mobility. What was presented here was a brief, high-level survey, and readers are encouraged to fill any major gaps in understanding before undertaking major roles in voice mobility networks.

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